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Yet Another EVE Online Scandal? 259

Ariastis writes "An open letter, posted by former EVE Players, levels some new and serious accusations against CCP, the makers of the EVE Online MMOG. In the letter, chat logs & event timelines, along with description of in-game events from CCP-Approved reporting users, describe how most of the big role-playing events are rigged to favor specific alliances & players by CCP. More disturbingly, these users also appear to have CCP employees 'on call', ready to step in on behalf of the favoured players and alliances within the game. CCP reaction is member-only, but a forum thread has been left open to discuss about it." It should be pointed out at the moment all of the evidence put forward is circumstantial; take with a grain of salt. The issue of corruption in EVE was addressed in our interview with Magnus Bergsson at GDC.
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Yet Another EVE Online Scandal?

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  • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7&kc,rr,com> on Friday May 25, 2007 @09:06PM (#19278573) Homepage
    Isn't this around the 3rd-4th time something like this has come up concerning EVE? It appears either their userbase is completely paranoid or the people behind the game are shifty weasels either way there is an easy way to express your disdain for the behavior, stop playing.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @09:08PM (#19278589)
    ...that this "having EVE staff at beck and call" is not CCP's "official" doing but rather due to some CCP employees playing the game?

    Doesn't make it any more "right", but would explain a lot of things. People are people, and most of all they're human. And thus prone to the temptations of power, and of abusing it.

    Furthermore, CCP "hires" (or at least hired, dunno if that practice still exists) players to work as the first line troubleshooters, as aides for newbies, as listeners to whining when people get stuck between zones, etc. I wouldn't deem it impossible that some people took up this "helper" position for the sole purpose of furthering their corporation's goals, and those people do have a quite direct connection to the staff. I was one of those people (without the abuse. My corp was anything but a "0.0 capable" corp).
  • Re:WHO CARES?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @09:14PM (#19278637)
    I care. Lots of people have worked hard to create a vibrant material and political economy in EVE. EVE's real-time training system means this stuff takes a long, long time. It's natural and proper that people would rather seek a change in CCP's awful favoritism and blatant cheating, instead of throwing away years worth of work.

  • by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @09:20PM (#19278677) Homepage Journal
    Or better yet, imagine if Ghengis Khan, Hitler, etc. had imaginary wargames like this to play with. Would they leave their basements either?
  • by Mr_eX9 ( 800448 ) * on Friday May 25, 2007 @09:23PM (#19278711) Homepage

    ...And thus prone to the temptations of power, and of abusing it.
    That is exactly why employees of games like these need to be confined to their own guilds/corporations that are automatically disqualified from taking part in major in-game events.
  • by CharonX ( 522492 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:08PM (#19278969) Journal
    So that fireing of that ISD reporter at the command of a BoB member.
    That odd dev promiting himself to director, demoting himself a couple of minutes later without communication.
    All inquiries related to above incident being buried and blocked out.
    Banning of members who inquired and asked "unpleasant" questions, over formalities
    Evidence that CCP wants to push certain results - "outcome X is desirable. see to it" in the storyline.
    Previous accounts of collusion and corruption.
    Failure to punish above accounts as written in policy.
    All those things are only coincidences. No, sir, I don't buy it.
  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:27PM (#19279097) Journal

    ...and it was just like reading the first chapter of Frank Herbert's "Dune".

    I imagine that it would take another 350 pages of that crap before any of it starts to make sense.

    Ohhh...and now my brain hurts.

  • It's a shame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HarryCaul ( 25943 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:44PM (#19279181)

    I keep being tempted by this game. I like the premise. I did the trial, enjoyed the time. I even like the idea of all the schemes and betrayals that are EVE legends.

    But every time I get close to signing up, there's some story of CCP employee misconduct affecting gameplay, and that just turns me right off the game.

    I'd hoped they'd cleaned up their act, but it seems the answer is no.

    CCP, you need transparency. You need to have clear rules for employees, and enforce them in a public manner. You have serious work to do to clean up your reputation.

    It IS costing you money, without any question whatsoever.

  • Re:WHO CARES?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @10:56PM (#19279245) Journal
    Motive for CCP interference?
  • Re:Thread (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:32PM (#19279469)
    What's really interesting about your un-modded copy is that we get to see just WHICH postings get removed. Aside from the flame postings, it's quite informative...
  • by the_mighty_$ ( 726261 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:43PM (#19279547)

    Of course that's the whole point of the game, it's not supposed to be fair.

    How do you define fair? To me, fairness means everyone is judged by the same standards and plays by the same set of rules. Fairness should not mean that everyone should have the same outcome. I doubt that any new Eve player expected to be instantly given the "right" to as much in-game power as those people who have been playing longer and have more knowledge about the game. All we expected was that the rules of the game would be the same for everyone. However, when developers use the power that they have acquired outside of the game (by virtue of their being devs) to bend the rules in their favor, that upsets the rest of the player base--and rightly so.

  • by Faylone ( 880739 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:59PM (#19279647)
    If I wanted to deal with that, I'd go outside.
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:04AM (#19279677)
    Does a novelist work when writing? Is restoring a classic car work? Is putting in time on an open-source side project work? A lot of people feel the difference between work and play is all in the mind. Some play still requires a lot of work. People do it because they feel it's satisfying.

    Say you restored a classic car from a rusted-out wreck and it's now a showpiece. You feel satisfaction. Some rich guy enters a car in the same show and you know he paid someone else to do all the work. Well, does that bust your balls? Some people might feel it takes nothing away from the experience of actually restoring the car and are not put out. Some people might be upset about losing the blue ribbon to someone who just bought his way into the competition. Now what if you find out the rich guy's uncle is also on the judging panel and that this influenced his win? You may enjoy your car but there's no way in hell you'd enter that contest again, right? Now imagine that you had to do all that restoration work in a garage owned by the car show and you cannot take it with you if you want to leave. That's how people feel trapped in the game and that's why they get far angrier than most people would think is appropriate given the situation. You don't have to be a car buff to understand why someone would be upset if some dick smashed up another guy's car. You'd have to be a frickin' Buddhist monk not to be upset if it were your car. And if you were a Buddhist monk, what are you doing with a nice car anyway? :)

    I guess what it boils down to is that you're kind of fucked if your passtime can be in any way controlled by someone else. If you like playing D&D, you don't have to go with the latest rules if everyone agrees to stick with the old ones. You can agree to modify the rules in a friendly game of chess for that matter. But if you follow a professional sport and they start dicking with the rules and changing the game, not much you can do there. Same goes for multiplayer games. It's not like you can say "you know what, I don't think I want to install that patch."
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:49AM (#19280013)
    Umm... yes?

    By their very nature they aren't "normal" players, no matter what they do. Even if they don't have access to superior equipment or funds, at the very least they have superior information. They are the first to know about new events, the first to know about new areas, new technology, tweaks in the physics and gameplay, changes in game balance and a thousand things more.

    By the very nature of "insiders", they can't be "normal" players.

    So the best way to "use" them is to make them kinda-sorta-NPCs. That's not as hard as it may sound. If you have a character, you simply switch corporation, if not, start a new one in there. Even if you don't announce it, word will get around that this is the "CCP corp", and people will react accordingly. Some will start to suck up to you. Some will start to fight you. Some will try to become your buddies to get some scraps from you. Some will try to prove that they're better than you and hunt you for your (allegedly superior) equipment.

    I could well see this as a quite fun and entertaining way to drive plots. For both sides.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @12:59AM (#19280095)
    EvE is different in many aspects when you compare it to an "ordinary" MMORPG.

    First of all, training and getting your gear takes a long, long time. I'm dead serious when I say, after a year you can consider yourself ready to start (!) considering (!) playing with the "big boys". That year will be spent getting your gear, learning to pilot your ship, learning the market (mastering of which I'd easily allow as a substitute for a year of professional accounting) and so on.

    Death hurts. Remember EQ? Yes, like that. You lose EVERYTHING. Well, ok, you lose your ship. Which isn't so much a deal while you're still equipped with ordinary junk you can pick up anywhere, since you can insure your ship for its full price. Hell, given the drop in ship prices, you can even make some money that way! Caveat: Your equipment ist lost anyway. And later in the game this hurts a TON more when the value of the ship is only a tiny fraction of what you paid for all the goodies you had in there.

    Commitment is pretty high. We're not talking WoW "let's go and club some dungeon dragon, should take less than 5 hours" commitment. I've seen people gatecamp for 8 hours a shift. Yes, shift. Yes, as in working shifts. And gatecamping can be quite boring when nobody bothers to fly through. Yes, those people were sitting there at a gate and watch the gate. Yes, that's boring as hell. Yes, people do it. No, I have no idea what's interesting about it. But it "has" to be done if you want to "own" a sector.

    Now those people get to see that all their work, their deaths, their commitment is for zip. I can see why they are upset about it...
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @01:15AM (#19280205)
    So I guess the 32k people logged on atm are imaginary.

  • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @01:19AM (#19280241) Journal
    Yeah... It does not make sense that the very same people who may or may not have the power to magically poof a ship into existence for themselves should be permitted to play as a 'player' regardless if they pay for it or not.

    You have to have some level of neutrality and/or transparency among your administration or you end up with things like this were every little thing gets blown into a big old drama fest. If your policy is to simply fire anyone who plays AND GM's then it is pretty clear. You should also make such incidents publicly known when they do occur so the community knows that you are serious about enforcement of your own rules upon yourself.
  • by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @08:31AM (#19282023)
    That some key events are rigged is a given. Sorry, but it can't be any other way. Storylines are developed months in advance, the developers need time to implement them. You can't develop two or more stories and possible outcomes just in case it turns out this or that way. That's even quite understandable.
    Solid reasoning so far, but I draw another conclusion from it:

    When you cannot make your storyline play out as desired without cheating, you should not have long, preplanned storylines. At best, you can have one where irresistible forces that are credibly outside player control drive the plot.

    In EVE's case such forces could be stargates going defective or some star going nova, as controlling such events is outside the skills available to player characters. But if CCP only spawns something like a medium-sized pirate fleet, they should be prepared for players wiping it out before it achieves its storyline purpose.

  • by GTMoogle ( 968547 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @09:44AM (#19282363)
    EVE's... different. There aren't many rules - the game each player is playing is the one that he wants to compete in. You choose your weapons, whether they are units of money, big guns, allies, forum drama, or real world media pressure on CCP.

    I've been out of the loop for a bit so I'm not sure what the situation is, but if the goons manage to influence CCP, then they've accomplished something in game.

    These big scandals are part of the fun.

    Or in other words...
    In Soviet Russia, EVE plays you!
  • by evilDscrp ( 733766 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @11:26AM (#19282957)
    seriously, if mmo's and the like arent your thing, then don't care and don't bloat of this thread with your not caringness. i mean, i dont care too much about the lot of physics posts, but i dont flame them for it. :)

    im a longtime reader of /. and a long time player of eve. what many outside the game fail to comprehend is the way in which propagana works in Eve-Online. it takes it to a whole new level of metagaming. couple that with the megacapitalistic mechanics, in which you can lose literally everything including your very character's ages of trained skills, and you start to understand why the game's player base can be so fanatical and involved. most of us are older players. we like this amount of pressure. we like this style of metagaming.

    that said, i do believe there was some dev misconduct some time ago. but i do not believe ccp would be so asinine as to let it happen again. let me explain it in the context of EVE as a player:

    a universal war broke out over the previous scandal in the game. both sides have used propaganda. this latest so-called-scandal is in fact part of the metagame. you all probably don't realize it, but in fact you are playing eve right now by participating in this thread, lol, the eve player base is exactly the kind that reads sites like slashdot. the accusations made have been put forth by one of the major alliances. they are compiled, not recent, and work to outrage the eve player base precisely in order to exact punitive repercussions on its warring enemy. and yes, those who are doing the accusing ARE the type who will see this as "winning" eve at all costs, even to the point of the company of CCP suffering. CCP are certainly not the best at communicating what they did and continue to do in order to prevent player/dev incest; however, that does not add up to them facilitating or denying wrongdoing when it happens. think of it: they are a small company, are levelled a malicious charge, and promptly get a thread over 60 pages in less than 24 hrs on their forums demanding answers, all the while maintaining their game servers and getting /.d on their forums. obviously, patience is not always an attribute of some eve gamers, heh.

    sry for such a long post but i thought it might help your discussion to consider this whole thing in the above terms.

  • by Chibi Merrow ( 226057 ) <> on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:13PM (#19286403) Homepage Journal

    it's still just a game.

    So's baseball. But somehow cheating there warrants congressional investigations.

    (And no, I'm not saying congress should investigate EVE, I'm saying they had no business investigating baseball.)
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @07:34PM (#19286583) Homepage Journal

    But do I get to shoot people who wander into my view as this security guard? Do my actions now matter? Instead of being a nameless, faceless cog in a machine built up in a world of false goals and empty societal constructs, might I be capable of accomplishing something important? Can billions of lives now be affected by my decisions?


    Your actions affect a bunch of other nightguards in the building, and possibly some employees if you're getting out of your way (for which you'll get promptly bitchslapped).

    In EvE you spend months to change what is in fact several bytes in the database, and could be changed in matter of seconds by one SQL UPDATE command. These bytes don't affect any piece of our world, only other people who struggle to modify their entry in the database that way. This is a game, and all your achievements in it are meaningless. If you think that what you do in the game matters, you lie to yourself.
    Sure I enjoy any good game, but I stay in touch with the reality: this is a game. It is supposed to be fun. If it's not fun, it fails at its task as a game, I put it away. If the game frustrates me, if it pisses me off, it fails at its task miserably, and I get rid of it ASAP. I'd never spend months of my life playing a game I don't enjoy, in hopes that if I work hard enough, I would start to enjoy it, and I'd never start playing a game with the only premise that my achievements would be meaningful.
  • by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @10:25PM (#19287947) Journal
    "EVE has removed the leveling problem inherent in most MMORPG's, your skills train whether you are in the game or not. But because of the expense of your ships and how much you stand to lose when you are killed, you are left grinding for isk instead of xp"

    And made it much worse. It doesn't matter that you are good or have time, you still have to wait years to train stuff up. This is the most efficient addiction detector yet designed.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday May 26, 2007 @11:42PM (#19288533)
    I've staffed on games before, I was even doing some "work" for EvE for a while. Actually during the interview for EvE the question of playing favorites comes up more than just once.

    It's a matter of personal morals. I don't cheat in games, unless I can be absolutely sure that I don't hurt the experience of another person. In a single player game, who cares if you play it in God mode? You're only cheating yourself. In multiplayer, cheating is simply no option, since I will never have sufficient information to make absolutely certain that my cheating does not affect the experience of another player in a negative way.

    Personally, I take pride in the ability to resist the temptation to push the I-win button in multiplayer games. Unfortunately, not everyone does.

    And also unfortunately, you can't see it in the looks of a person if he can. You can trust him and deal with it when he abuses that trust. Or you can do what you suggest and disallow it altogether. But, honestly, when I get attracted to a company because their products are good, and I want to work there to make their products even better, being disallowed to use their products is not really something that encourages me to take the job.
  • by tukkayoot ( 528280 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:07AM (#19290299) Homepage
    I can understand the amount of time and energy put into the game, but whether a player invests 20 minutes or 3 years, it's still just a game.

    So what if EVE is just a game? It's a meaningless statement, tautology. After all, money is only money. Water is only water. Blood is only blood. You'd have a hard time proving that anything in this world has any intrinsic value. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The time a person invests in the game is relevant to estimations of value, however, because time is something virtually everyone values rather highly, since we only have so much of it. Beyond that though, I feel compelled to point out that EVE is not just a game. It's a community. It's an economy. It's a business. All in a very real sense (or as real as any of these abstract concepts can be.)

    Given that, I know it's quite understandable why someone would be angry upon discovering that employees or representatives of the company (CCP) either promote cheating or treat it as a zero priority problem, because the player paid a subscription fee for a service that is supposed to be regulated by fair, consistent, and logical rules. However, I think there's a difference between getting angry and demanding a refund versus getting angry and becoming swept into the drama over a fantasy world, which (to me) is an unproportional response.

    I can understand exaggerated responses because I've been guilty of having them. To me it's a signal that there's an addiction going on with the player. A serious one.

    There's a fine line between passion and addiction and without knowing the details of a someone's personal life, it's virtually impossible to tell them apart. As long as these games have a social component and an interacting community, and on top of that a competitive economy, you should expect people to sometimes to be rather dramatic in their reaction to perceived (and real) wrongs committed against them. Add to that, the fact that people are more prone to theatrics and other outrageous behaviors when anonymous (or semi-anonymous). In that context I don't think the response is necessarily disproportionate for someone who really enjoys the game, cares a lot about it, and values the significant amount of time and money they've devoted to the game. Addiction does not necessarily have to enter into it, though I would grant that realistically, it often does.

    What I think is most sad about MMOs is that often it seems to get to the point with people where they no longer play because they really, genuinely, truly love to play the game, but they do so merely out of habit or because they are chasing some unattainable goal (because by the time they achieve any goal, they are so fixated on a new goal, their joy may be diminished), almost like a crack addict chasing that pure, perfect high. Gaming addiction generally isn't as destructive or dangerous as many other addictions, of course, but I completely understand the point that for some people, it really can get out of hand. However, I don't really think it's relevant to this particular topic and I think people are, in general, a little too ready to dismiss gamers as being addicts with no lives whenever they express any great amount of enthusiasm (positive or negative) about their hobby.
  • by GeneJoker ( 549689 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @07:39AM (#19298839)
    Grand Parent. The post above the post you are replying to.

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